News Roundup Friday 15th March 2019



EU scraps plans for digital tax

The EU will shift attention to securing global agreement on a digital tax on tech giants after several member states opposed an EU digital tax. Although companies such as Google and Facebook may be relieved for now, it is noted that both the UK and France will continue to pursue plans for digital taxes at a national level. Senior US Treasury official Chip Harter described unilateral national taxes as “ill-conceived” and urged countries to instead pursue the international tax reforms outlined by the OECD. Elsewhere, the Telegraph’s Anna Isaac considers how a UK tax on tech giants could harm the chances of a good British-American trade deal.

City AM, Page: 15 Yorkshire Post, Page: 19 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 8

Will Chancellor increase CGT?

Experts believe the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, could target capital gains tax in his Spring Statement with Casper Noble of EY suggesting it would be an easy fundraising option, but was perhaps more likely to be found in the Budget later in the year. With a revision to CGT expected at some point, wealth managers are advising investors to consider their options.

The Daily Telegraph

Staffline underpaid workers for years

Staffline has said it is working with HMRC to resolve the issue of underpayments to workers going back several years. The recruiter’s auditor PwC was tipped off about Staffline’s invoicing and payroll practices by a whistleblower earlier in the year.

The Times, Page: 42


Interserve’s administrator warned off selling off to lenders

Interserve’s largest shareholder Coltrane Asset Management has warned the outsourcer’s would-be administrator against arranging a pre-pack insolvency deal that would hand total control to the firm’s lenders, in the event the firm goes bust. The US hedge fund is asking EY to consider all interested parties, not just Interserve’s bankers. Coltrane has been angered by Interserve’s proposed rescue deal which would massively dilute shareholders’ stakes.

City AM, Page: 5 Daily Mail, Page: 70

Over 40,000 Wonga customers seek compensation

More than 40,000 customers of former payday lender Wonga are seeking compensation, administrators Grant Thornton have said. The total is four times the previous estimate and more claimants are expected. Wonga fell into administration in August last year, with thousands of customers awaiting ombudsman rulings on whether they were mis-sold loans.

BBC News The I, Page: 38 Daily Mirror, Page: 46 The Guardian, Page: 29 Daily Mail, Page: 68 The Times, Page: 48 City AM, Page: 16

Pretty Green in poor shape

Liam Gallagher’s fashion business Pretty Green has called in Moorfields Advisory to help save the firm, which is believed to have been left £500,000 out of pocket after House of Fraser went bust last August – after making a £1.5m pre-tax loss in 2017.

The Sun, Page: 24


Tech market needs to be opened up to competition

An independent review of the technology market has found large companies have become increasingly dominant and an overhaul of competition laws is required to ensure consumer choice. The review, led by Harvard Professor Jason Furman, urged the Government to give consumers more control over their data so they could move it from one digital platform to another. There should also be improved general access to non-personal or anonymised data to help remove barriers to new entry in digital markets. Prof Furman commented: “We are outlining a balanced proposal to give people more control over their data and give small businesses more of a chance to enter and thrive.” The Chancellor will use his Spring Statement to highlight the recommendations set out in the review.

Financial Times Financial Times Mirage News BBC News The Times The Daily Telegraph The I, Page: 38 The Sun, Page: 2

SME Alliance gives backing to Dispute Resolution Scheme

The SME Alliance has accepted an invitation to join the steering group to deliver the Dispute Resolution Scheme (DRS). The DRS was formed in response to the Walker Report on SME banking disputes, which recommended that the banks revisit and settle legacy cases. Leader of the campaign group, Nikki Turner, who was a victim of the HBOS Reading fraud, said: “Many SME owners are unable to fight the banks through the courts for reasons including time barring and the expense of litigation, so this represents a real opportunity for them to secure a semblance of justice.”

Financial Times, Page: 18 Yorkshire Post

Time to tackle late payments, FSB tells Hammond

Small businesses have urged Philip Hammond to use his Spring Statement to crack down on poor payment practices that are harming the UK. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called on the Chancellor to announce a package of measures to end late payments, which it said threatened the survival of smaller companies.

City AM, Page: 8


UK economy expanded faster than predicted in January

UK GDP expanded 0.5% in January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a marked improvement on December 2018 when GDP shrank by 0.4%. Boosted by growth in construction (2.8%) and manufacturing (0.8%) earlier this year, the economy grew by 0.2% in the three months to January 2019, which should be used as an “indicator of the longer-term trend of the economy”, the ONS said. Andrew Wishart, of Capital Economics, thought the latest figures on the economy were “a reassuring sign that … the UK economy was weathering the political crisis at home and slowdown overseas pretty well”. But John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, said: “The big picture remains one of continued sluggish but positive growth in the UK economy, with business investment held back by ongoing uncertainty over Brexit.”

Financial Times The I, Page: 38 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4 The Independent, Page: 47 Daily Mail, Page: 68

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Paul Southward